Oddsmaker

Oddsmaker is the king of the mountain … of scams. Their scams date all the way back to 2007, and according to reports and articles we’ve come across, we have reason to believe they’ve been scamming players since as far back as 1994. It appears that their sole reason for existing online is to take the deposits from players without any intention to pay winnings.

It’s not just players they scam either. They take advantage of operators, too.

The Scumbags Behind Oddsmaker

There are a few characters that drive Oddsmaker forward.

At the very top you have Future Bet[1], the parent company. Under Future Bet you’ll find a number of websites that are run in order to drive traffic or acquire new customers. They also lease software to operators. All are scams, even sportsbooks that lease the software – they just don’t know it yet.

According to a post made by an ex-employee of Future Bet[2] , Oddsmaker (and likely all of Future Bet) operates under several names. This includes GDI Software Services, Steel Head Games, New Wave Marketing and JP Gateway. All of these fall under the Digital Gaming Network umbrella. Their goal was to make everything appear as if they’re operating separate companies (for legal reasons, and to confuse people).

If you dig a little deeper you come across a shady character named Ron Katz, who is reportedly a motorcycle gang member and the front man for Oddsmaker. If you do some Googling you’ll come across several spam sites he’s created at Blogspot and Pinterest. My guess is that he created these to attract new operators and/or improve the search results for Oddsmaker. Either way, that’s about all you see/hear of him online. You see even less of Joe Lacascia, who lives in America and is apparently the owner of the Oddsmaker Group.

Further down the chain you have Tony Massina, the guy that runs the fraud department. My research tells me that he’s a nice guy, that enjoys closing accounts and hanging up on people.

Theft, Theft and More Theft – The Oddsmaker Way

Oddsmaker has been involved in several scandals. Here are some examples of the worst scams they’ve pulled.[3]

March 2013 – Player Lost $13,000

A player reported that Oddsmaker closed his account with about $13,000 in it. What’s interesting to note about his account is that for the first couple of years, he actually lost $5,000. He just managed to go on a hot streak and run his account up. But according to Oddsmaker he was a sharp, and that justified them closing his account. They also said they weren’t going to pay him.

Guy Runs Account Up to $45,000[4]

The story above is standard at most scam books. The following tale is more interesting.

A player shares a story on SBR where he decides to take advantage of two bonuses at Oddsmaker. He notices that the site is late to move lines, and as a result, manages to increase his account to $10,000.

However, he finds out through some research that Oddsmaker is (likely to be) a scam. In fear of losing his money, he tries to place losing bets at Oddsmaker, but make (the opposite) winning bets at a local (Las Vegas) casino. This is referred to as middling; you try to shift your money from one account to the next.

But his plans don’t work out. He actually runs his (online) account up to $28,000. So he instead tries to make an $8,000 withdrawal. He’s told that $8,000 is too much, and that he’ll be sent two $4,000 checks instead.

He receives one check.

He continues to run his balance up to $45,000 (trying to middle the balance off). By this time he still hasn’t received his additional $4,000. He’s starting to get stressed because he used his life savings at the local books (and lost). All of his money online. So what he does next is send Oddsmaker a message asking if he has to obtain an attorney to get his money.

This is when we see the nice guy, Tony Massina, tell the players that he’s in a lot of trouble. Oddsmaker has apparently marked him as a professional bettor, and as a result, was closing his account and not paying him his funds.

When contacted by independent arbitrators, Tony Massina made it sound as if the guy was lucky to get $6,000 from the site. He screwed himself when he threatened legal action.

After a lot of back and forth, the guy settled with Oddsmaker for an undisclosed 5-figure sum. My guess is that he didn’t receive what he should have, and was ultimately ripped off. I only hope that he got (most of) his life savings back.

Future Bet Sportsbook Owner Out $100,000[5]

This story is unique in that you don’t hear too much about operators getting ripped off. It’s always about the players.

In this situation a gentleman wanted to start his own sportsbook. So he flew out to Future Bet’s headquarters in Canada to talk to Ron Katz about their turnkey solution. For a fee, Future Bet will give you a website, license your software, act as the payment processor (uh oh) and provide the customer support. According to this man, Ron Katz is likely to be one of the owners of Future Bet.

Very quickly things started to go downhill. Future Bet said that they would not pay winners, so the owner had to pay them from his own pocket. But Future Bet wasn’t paying them, nor their players. After some research the operator found that no one was paid in the first quarter of 2007. By the time the operator closed up shop they were $100,000 in the hole.

An Easy to Spot Scam

Oddsmaker is your traditional scam site. They keep no money on hand to pay players. It’s all dumped into marketing (to acquire new, unsuspecting players), with the rest being funneled to Ron Katz and Joe Lacascia. They just call players sharp and/or point to their terms, and then run off with the funds.

Players should use this as a wakeup call. For one thing, this scam has been going on for several years. Given their shady past, I think it’s unnecessary to get caught up in a scam book like this one if you’re doing your due diligence.

Furthermore, I recommend not trusting a book because they have a shiny website, big bonus offers and slick software. That type of stuff lures suckers in. Don’t be one of them. I also wouldn’t sign up to a site that has a rude support staff or fraud department. That’s a surefire sign you need to take your business elsewhere.

Still Stealing Players Money, Even Now

I find it incredible that these thieves are still in business, considering that they owe, at a minimum, $250,000. That’s according to SBR, and probably doesn’t include all the players with small balances and those that haven’ come forward (or have realized they’ve been scammed yet).

Remember, one of their angles is to operate multiple sportsbook and websites to attract customers. You’ll notice that their website graces the top of all these recommendation pages. In addition to the sportsbook market, they were also involved with poker. They were the crooks behind Felt Stars, a site that closed without warning in 2012.[6]. If you ever come across a site promoting Oddsmaker as a top sportsbook, note the URL and remember to never, ever trust a recommendation from that website, as everyone who promotes any Future Bet site is complicit in the theft of players money, both now and in the future.

Sources

[1] A list of Future Bet’s websites.
[2] Ex-employee comes out to warn against playing at any Future Bet website. – 2+2 poker forum thread
[3] The Oddsmaker Scam
[4] A link to a thread on SBR that discusses a player being scammed out of $45,000.
[5] Previous operator shares his $100,000 (loss) lesson working with Future Bet / Oddsmaker – SBR
[6] Feltstars closes down – Pokerfuse report.